Freddie Prinze Jr. "Wanted to Fight" His "I Know What You Did Last Summer" Director
The actor had a "miserable" experience on the 1997 teen horror movie.
Freddie Prinze Jr. starred in a run of popular 1990s and early 2000s movies, She's All That and Down to You among them. But his career really kicked off with the 1997 teen horror flick, I Know What You Did Last Summer. (It also introduced him to his wife of over 20 years, co-star Sarah Michelle Gellar.) Despite the role changing his life both professionally and personally, Prinze does not look back on his time making 1997's I Know What You Did Last Summer fondly. In a recent interview, the actor revealed that he had such a "miserable" time working with the movie's director that there were times he "wanted to fight" him. Read on to see what Prinze had to say about the tense set.
Prinze says the director did not want him for the part.
In a new interview with TooFab, Prinze opened up about his time on I Know What You Did Last Summer after watching it in full for the first time. The 47-year-old shared that he generally doesn't like to watch himself, but that he revisited the movie for his new horror podcast, That Was Pretty Scary.
Prinze claimed that director Jim Gillespie didn't want him to be in the movie but that he landed the role because of the producer and writer. Gillespie wanted Jeremy Sisto to star instead, according to the She's All That star.
"I'll give the man this, I think his name is Jim, he made no bones about it," Prinze explained. "There was no passive aggressiveness—which I hate—he was very direct in the fact that, 'I don't want you in this movie.' So when that's your first job and you hear those words, it just wrecks you, man. It just wrecks you."
He also claimed, "He made it a point to single me out every time, would bring the other actors together without me, and give them all notes. And I'm like, well was he just trying to do some Method crap? I just don't understand."
He had to be talked down from fighting him.
Prinze shared that there were times he felt like fighting Gillespie.
"When I did have those moments where the director was giving me psychotic notes, like 'Don't leave your mouth open. You look stupid when you do that'—that was the exact note, word for word, I'll never forget it—and I'm like, I'm either gonna break down or I have to beat this guy's [expletive]. Like those were the only two options in my head," Prinze said.
Elsewhere in the interview, the actor said, "I wanted to fight that guy two or three different times. Once I felt was a legitimate reason, and the other two I was just pissed off, which, that's not right. I'm glad everybody talked me down."
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A dangerous stunt went very wrong.
On his podcast, Prinze recalled a stunt that did not go as planned on the horror movie, almost seriously injuring him. It happened when he was driving a boat.
"The whole dinghy flies in the air, goes almost upside down, dumps me out, lands back on its belly, and the motor's still running, goes right over my head," he said. "I don't feel the propellers per se, but I feel the movement in the water from the propellers."
He continued, "The director comes up to me—and I'm expecting a damn good apology—and he comes up to me and says, 'We have to get the shot again. You wrecked the shot.' And I go, 'I what? I what.'" Prinze said that he was also surprised to find that the stunt person he was working with had been sent home for the day.
"I've made my peace. I'm not mad at that director, Jim Gillespie is his name. I was mad then. I was 21 years old. I had so much more testosterone in my body than my body can produce now," he said, laughing. "I don't have the ability to be angry. But it was so scary."
He leaned on his co-stars
Prinze told TooFab that his castmates helped him get through filming, particularly Gellar and Ryan Phillippe.
"I remember Ryan came up to me and was like, 'Screw that guy, man. How many times did you audition for this movie?' and I go, 'Five times,' he goes, 'Yeah, you earned it. You didn't get offered the role, you earned it. There were less people every single time time you went and then it was just you. Remember what booked you this role. Screw his notes. Any note he gives you just say, okay, and do what you want to do,'" Prinze recalled. "He was the first person to say that to me."
He nearly quit the movie.
Prinze said that he considered walking off the I Know What You Did Last Summer set for good.
"I almost caught a flight and went home," Prinze said in the interview. "I was done. I had enough. They had broken a ton of union stuff that they shouldn't have, like union rules. All kinds of things. And I just felt like yo, if I'm not wanted here, screw it. There's other things I can do. I dropped out of Le Cordon Bleu to make this movie. I'll go be a chef, that's what my mom wanted me to be anyways. I packed my bags that night. I was just gonna quit the business."
Prinze decided to continue acting but has also kept up his passion for food. He released a cookbook, Back to the Kitchen, in 2016.
He's glad he stuck around.
Prinze is happy now that he stuck with the movie, because I Know What You Did Last Summer changed his career and introduced him to his wife.
"In hindsight, I'm not upset, because that movie launched my whole career. I wouldn't have any of the things I have without that movie, I wouldn't have my wife, I wouldn't have all the other movies I've done, I wouldn't have this podcast," he explained. He also said that having a bad experience early in his career was a blessing in disguise, because while he worked with other difficult people, he'd already gone through the worst of it.
Gillespie has told a different story.
In an interview with Digital Spy for the 20th anniversary of I Know What You Did Last Summer in 2017, Gillespie countered Prinze's claim that he wasn't happy with the actor. In fact, he said that he fought for Prinze to get the role.
"Nobody wanted Freddie; they thought he was too soft, he wasn't muscular enough, so Freddie probably screen-tested four or five times," Gillespie said. "He got to the point where he was saying, 'I'm done', and I really had to plead with him to stick with it because I wanted him. I thought he was going to be great with it. He went to the gym and worked out, changed his diet and his hair cut. I stuck to my guns and eventually they went, 'Yes.'"
Best Life could not reach Gillespie for further comment.